New Delhi: Advertisement for a new skin whitening product for private parts has sparked outrage on the Internet with people blasting the commercial as an "ultimate insult to women." This is the latest in a long list of skin whitening products to have earned the wrath of women including a wide range of fairness creams.
The television commercial for the "intimate" product promises its "special pH-balanced formula cleans and protects the affected area, and even makes the skin fairer." Fairness products are regularly endorsed by film stars and celebrities in India despite protests from feminists that they promote insecurity and discrimination amongst women.
Magazines and advertising agencies have taken the flak for heavily using photo editing software on pictures of models endorsing such products to make them look fairer than they are in real life. The obsession with fair skin is often linked to a woman's marital prospects.
Advertisements for these products almost always show a woman seeking a man's approval after having her skin lightened with the help of the products.
"Ok this is the ultimate insult. Skin whitening for your vagina," Rupa Subramanya, a writer with the Economics Journal for Wall Street Journal, India tweeted. User Neha who tweets as @ThePunjew said: "What a bummer, there's no shade card yet to monitor fairness progress!"
"Geebus H! If you thought the fair skin fad wasn't messed up enough already, presenting the next level," said comic writer Sahil Rizwan.
Filmmaker Vic Sarin was recently in India to shoot parts of his latest documentary project, tentatively titled Hues that touches upon the issue of skin colour and racism. In an interview to The New Indian Express Sarin said: "We are all hypocrites when it comes to the skin colour." People fight against skin colour bias, but they go back home and stock up on fairness creams, he said.
Several recent products have taken the fairness cream debate forward with deodorants for underarms and skin lightening for men. Many prominent male celebrities endorse these products. Cricketer Virat Kohli who endorses a fairness cream told the Times of India, "I signed on because even though I don't necessarily use fairness creams myself, a lot of men do, and it has a strong mass appeal. Of course it's not girly to look after yourself."